Speech does not come easy to Danbury quarterback Patrick Rosetti.
Except when the headphones are turned on and he doesn’t have to think.
“I can rap,” explains Rosetti, who suffers from a severe speech impediment that often prevents him from completing full sentences. He proceeds to rap “Power” by Kanye West just as well as the original artist without missing a beat. He does so with a swagger that doesn’t seem possible for someone who struggles to communicate to others.
It’s quite the paradox for Rosetti, who has suffered from the condition his whole life. His older siblings have likewise, though they kicked out of it at an earlier age. What’s even more impressive is the junior’s response to his situation. An outstanding student with a 4.0 GPA while taking advanced placement classes, Rosetti plays the most important position on the field with a high level of confidence.
“That’s what makes him awesome,” Hatters coach Augie Tieri said. “He’s never allowed it to be a handicap or given someone else the opportunity to ridicule. He’s a dude in every aspect of his life; he’s the man academically, he’s man on the field and he has a lot of friends.”
The support group for Rosetti is admirable. Family, friends and school have combined to foster his development, when that is not guaranteed with most people in his situation. Rosetti — who started playing in middle school — idolized Tom Brady as a young kid and gravitated towards quarterback despite the perceived requirement of vocalization at the position.
“I have surrounded myself with people who are very supportive of me and I cannot express how much I love the people around me in school, on the team, and at home,” Rosetti said. “I am very appreciative of how my friends and teammates act as if there is nothing wrong with my speech at all and treat me as such.”
Teammates share a similar attitude.
“A big part of it is the way were brought up,” teammate Derek Rivers said. “Our parents always preached that you shouldn’t treat people differently. It’s a big thing for me because I have an autistic brother and I’ve been around (people with special needs). For Patrick to have a speech impediment it didn’t change how I look at him.”
Basic daily tasks that are often taken for granted can be cumbersome at times and cause anxiety for Rosetti. He cited ordering food in public or simply trying to make new friends as items made more difficult by his stutter. Technology has bridged the gap somewhat in a day and age where all teens are glued to their phones. It was the primary method of communication when Tieri, a former quarterback himself, and Rosetti began to bond.
“After every practice he would send me at text that was two or three pages long,” Tieri said. “He was self-evaluating for what he can do to get better. You could tell early the type of work ethic he has, the type of character he has and it’s interesting to think of that through technology that’s how I got an understanding of who he was.”
He doesn’t rely on technology as much as he could, though, and actually shies away from it as far as possible to stand on his own. Rosetti often gives oral presentations in front of his classmates despite the offer from teachers to do them one-on-one. An activity often anxiety-laden for students without any speech issues.
“I feel like having a speech impediment actually improved my ability to learn language due to how much thought I have to put into the words I say,” Rosetti said.
Rosetti — who has begun seeing a specialist at Yale with the hopes of minimizing the condition — is a different type of role model to those who have come before him.
“That’s what I said to him is that he could be an inspiration to other kids coming up who want to play football,” Tieri said. “It’s not just that, it’s the fact that he plays quarterback which is such an auditory position.”
TIME TO SHINE
Rosetti got time under center as a sophomore, and has emerged as the starting quarterback this year when Jackson Ciccone suffered an injury. The pair split time with Ciccone being the mobile threat and Rosetti providing the strong arm. They’ve combined for 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions with Rosetti providing nine of those.
Two potential watershed moments took place in 2019, but Rosetti thrived yet again. With Ciccone and Rosetti rotating reps in the offseason, the pre-snap cadence became an issue with the latter. Instead of keeping things status quo and allowing Ciccone to make the easier transition, he suggested to Tieri the offense move to a clap motion, a tactic used by Ohio State and wouldn’t require spoken queues.
“They support each other tremendously and are great friends,” Tieri said. “That could have been the moment where Jackson ascended into the role and we were just looking at it where we want to give this kid every opportunity to compete and Jackson was the first one in front to say let’s go to a clap. He wanted to find a resolution to help.”
Then came the Hatters’ matchup with Darien, one where the third-ranked Blue Wave were supposed to roll. Danbury had other ideas and with Ciccone leading the charge, it remained in the game throughout. Though they traditionally split time relatively evenly, Tieri rode the hot hand in Ciccone as the Hatters almost pulled off what would have been the upset of the season.
Ciccone went out with injury very early in the next contest against Norwalk. Rosetti came in and led a comeback that ended with a perfect throw in the corner of the end zone to teammate Bernie Delacruz for the winning score.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound, strong-armed Rosetti has a chance to play at the next level, Tieri said. Danbury will have a chance to finish 6-4 on Wednesday when it visits Ridgefield, another step forward in a program with just one winning season in the past decade.
He’s let his play, academic and personal success do the talking to date — Rosetti said he would like to study medicine — and that’s unlikely going to change. After all, he’ll always have a rap career to fall back on if all else fails.
“Every time I’m feeling down about it I just put in my earbuds and I’m able to enjoy music,” Rosetti said.
Every superhero needs his theme music after all.